Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

President Robert Mugabe emerges from house arrest

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Harassment and hypocrisy in Washington

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Military pressures Robert Mugabe to step down, Macron mediates Lebanon crisis

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

France raises a glass to tourism

Read more

FOCUS

France's newest political party accused of 'old' methods

Read more

#THE 51%

Hear me roar: The growing economic power of older women

Read more

#TECH 24

The future of surgery

Read more

DOWN TO EARTH

The tiny parasite threatening your salmon sushi

Read more

ENCORE!

Director Joachim Trier: True horror is a 'lack of self-acceptance'

Read more

Middle east

Israel cuts ties with UNESCO after holy site classified as 'mosque'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-11-03

Israel suspended relations with UNESCO Wednesday after the cultural branch of the UN classified the tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel as a mosque. The site is near Bethlehem in the West Bank, and is considered holy by both Jews and Muslims.

AFP - Israel suspended cooperation with UNESCO on Wednesday to protest at the cultural organisation's description of the tomb of the biblical matriarch Rachel, near Bethlehem in the West Bank, as a mosque.

"Israel has suspended cooperation with UNESCO," Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told parliament, according to a statement from his office.

The move comes after the United Nations cultural organisation on October 21 adopted a series of decisions concerning the Palestinian territories, including one on what it called "Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem," a formula rejected by Israel.

Ayalon said ties with UNESCO would remain frozen until it repealed the decision describing the tomb as a mosque, a definition Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described as "absurd."

"The UNESCO decision was made by the automatic Arab majority and was another attempt to delegitimise Israel instigated by the Palestinian Authority," the statement said.

"Decisions like these push peace further away and harm the reputation of UNESCO, which has become a rubber stamp for the Palestinian Authority," the statement said.

There was no immediate reaction from UNESCO.

The site, where according to tradition the biblical matriarch Rachel is buried, is the third holiest in Judaism, but also considered a holy place for Muslims. According to tradition, women who have difficulty conceiving pray at the tomb for children.

The tomb is in an enclave controlled by the Israeli military on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.

Rachel's Tomb, together with the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the West Bank city of Hebron, were at the centre of controversy earlier in the year when Israel included them in a national heritage restoration plan.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova Bokova endorsed a statement by Robert Serry, UN coordinator for the Middle East peace process, that the sites have "historical and religious significance not only to Judaism but also to Islam and to Christianity."

She also "expressed her concern" at the heritage plan and the "resulting escalation of tension in the area."

Israel defended the decision at the time, saying the plan involved only restoration work and promising there would be no attempt to change the delicate status quo at these sites.
 

Date created : 2010-11-03

  • MIDEAST CONFLICT

    Unofficial freeze ends with new settler homes in East Jerusalem

    Read more

  • ISRAEL

    Israel passes controversial loyalty legislation

    Read more

  • MIDEAST CONFLICT

    Israeli Navy intercepts Jewish activist boat

    Read more

COMMENT(S)